Saturday, September 23, 2006

An evening at the Rodeo. (or is it Ro-day-o?)

One nice part about the jobs Cam and I are working in now is that occasionally, we are able to spend time together during the workday. Friday, I returned home from work around 1:20 pm. Cam was working from home. I made a salad for us from the lettuce which is growing nicely in the patio garden.

The good people at Marin Honda were putting a new odometer in our car. The original, digital one appeared scrambled from time to time which wasn't a big deal but it always seemed to do it when I was trying to use the tripometer to navigate during directions. Since repairing it is covered under warranty, we took it in to have it done.

The funny thing is that after installing a new one, they forgot to set it to the actual mileage. When I got home from the dealership, I finally looked at the odometer and noticed that our car appears new again. It read 6 miles. Since they checked the mileage when I dropped the car off, I'm sure they will notice the discrepancy when we go back for the next oil change. Actually, I probably need to bring it back next week but it is fun imagining we have just added 35,000+ miles to the life of a warranty.

Anyway, Cam suggested that when I got home with the car, Sam got home from school and he finished work for the day, we head out to the beach. Honestly, I was a bit tired from the week and would have been ok relaxing at home and going out over the weekend but we worked so hard to get here, I'm not passing up trips to the beach lightly. So we went.

He'd thumbed through our infamous, Marin Hiking book and selected Rodeo Beach in the Marin Headlands. This beach is in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, a remarkable area very close to our friend, the bridge. We have often headed out a bit to explore which is wonderful but are excited to dig deeper into this area that is so close to home.

We drove up the highway just a couple of exits to Sausalito. We've been there before and enjoyed it but this time we drove through an entire area of downtown and of the bay front we'd never seen before. We're looking forward to going back there soon too. So we wound around past Sausalito and ended up at the base of the bridge. We circled back past some historic buildings and the Bay Area Discovery Museum and found the road we wanted. It takes us through a tunnel under Hwy 101 at the base of the bridge. It is a one-lane tunnel. The sign said it has a five minute red light. We didn't mind waiting our turn. It is a pretty lengthy tunnel and fun to drive through.

Emerging on the other side, we are greeted with rolling hills and open space. This is the area where early one morning, Cam and I saw a bobcat when we were trying to get to the Golden Gate Bridge. No bobcats this time but we did see more deer. We joked that seeing them is becoming common but they are still extraodinary. Cam really enjoys seeing the bucks. I'm amazed by the fawns that seem to be everywhere these days.

Just a few minutes down the road, we arrived at the parking area for Rodeo Beach. As Cam mentioned, we had to cross a marsh (easy via an interesting bridge/walkway). Many pelicans and other birds were enjoying the water. Then we were there.

Cam had said the area was known for semi-precious stones. I refused to call them semi, all of the stones we found there were precious in my eyes. And we did find some beautiful ones. My favorite was this tiny, bluish-green little pebble of what I'm calling agate. I wasn't going to keep it but held it in my pocket for a bit so I could look at it again later. When I pulled it out the next time, it was a duller grayish green. Still beautiful but not the stunning, radiant color it looked in its natural setting, wet from the surf and lit up by the setting sun. I threw it back immediately.

While the beach was brilliant, the sun was illuminating the hills behind us. I enjoyed looking at them too. Loads of surfers were making the most of the impressive waves up the beach to the right. We decided to walk along the beach, to our left, toward the interesting rock formations in the distance.

We kept picking up and admiring the pebble like stones along the way.

Then, suddenly, I saw a sand dollar. This was the first one I'd seen since we've lived here. It was beautiful. I knew they were animals but the hole a bird appears to have made cleanly in the center led me to believe this one was no longer alive. Upon returning home, I read in Vera Vello Capogna's "Did You Ever Wonder About Things You Find at the Beach?" that live sand dollars are a pinkish color. I don't know that I have ever seen one. This one was still fascinating.

We made it to the rocks and continued to be captivated by the water sparkling brilliantly.

I found another sand dollar. This one was tiny, not much bigger than the tip of my thumb. (The other one had been larger than a silver dollar.) I loved this tiny, little sand dollar. We must have found a wind break too because the sun warmed us up. Notice Sam climbing the rocks in the background.

As few minutes later, Cam noticed starfish clinging to the rock. While we'd seen many on our trip to the tide pools at Agate Beach, we hadn't been expecting them here. They snuck up and surprised us in the wild.

STARFISH!! A purple one, an orange one and a pink one.

We spent awhile running back and forth, into the water when the tide went out, trying to catch a glimpse of the starfish. Then running back out, away from the waves, trying to try to avoid wet britches.

A bit further down the beach, I saw these guys on a rock. They appear to be barnacle-type creatures as they are hard on the outside and seem firmly attached to this rock but I don't know exactly what they are yet.

Then Sam called us over to the rock to see a crab he had found. As we were watching that crab, we saw another then another. Suddenly, we noticed that there were crabs hiding in nearly every crack of these giant rocks.

Literally hundreds of them peeking out until we approached. Then receding, "Nothing to see here." This one was almost purple. We didn't use the flash and they were hard to see with the naked eye. I'm glad some of the pictures turned out.

We saw another starfish that appeared engorged. Cam thought it was pregnant. I thought it had just eaten something. We'll have to do some research and find out. Anyway, it was huge.

He stood next to it to put it into perspective.

Farther down the beach, the boys climbed more rocks.

What a glorious day.

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